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Skills to help you ace any job interview

By Mballa Mendouga, Communications — Manager, Corporation Social Responsibility & Campaigns, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants

You’ve made it through the first round of interviews for your dream job. Now it’s time to seal the deal. Sure, you’re qualified. But is that enough? What skills can take you into the final rounds?

Defeating the competition isn’t just about outdoing them by proving your proficiency with the technical aspects of the job. Are your human skills up to par? Can you work and relate effectively with people? Fortunately, the are skills that will keep finance and accounting professionals relevant in the digital age and they may help win over your interviewer and eliminate any hesitation about hiring you. 

Here are four human intelligence skills that can help you ace any job interview:

Leadership and self-confidence vs. arrogance.

People trust people who know what they’re doing — confident people. So, be that. You already know what to do because you’ve trained for it. Show that you believe that you’re good at your job. In any meeting, show that you trust in your own ability to deliver. Any business partner will pick up on this sense of self-trust. On paper, you look great. But low self-confidence is a buzz kill. 

On the other hand, there’s a fine line between arrogance and confidence. Your ability to stay on the right side of that line is crucial to demonstrating good leadership qualities. Be a confident leader. If servant leadership is more your style, stand tall in that identity without giving off egotism or a sense of superiority. Confidence is appealing and leaves room for human error and growth. Arrogance, however, can breed disdain and idealistic hopes.

Show good judgment and thinking skills.

Doing the math was your top skill set. Now, the future of accounting is in financial counselling and other kinds of decision-making. An organisation can’t predict everything you’ll encounter on the job, so demonstrating the ability to problem-solve and think beyond the surface will ensure that you stand out. It shows your competence and agility, but it also showcases your style – your identity. Critical thinking means questioning everything. Show your willingness to think before answering questions, and to provide options, alternatives, pros and cons, where relevant. This way, you’ll develop a trusting relationship from the beginning while simultaneously highlighting your unique way of doing things.  

Display emotional intelligence.

Sure, we’re talking business here, but people conduct business. And people have emotions. You become an asset if you can understand the emotions and moods of the people around you and can adapt your communication style to meet on level playing field. If the interviewer clearly is distracted or distraught over a personal situation, evaluate whether it’s appropriate to acknowledge those feelings. Be a human first. 

It’s equally important to be aware of your own emotions and manage them in a way that supports the work environment or meeting. Remember, in the digital age, humanity wins.

Communicate for your audience.

Adjust your communication style to suit your audience. Are you speaking with language that showcases your expertise for the job? Are you relating to the interviewer? Are you enthusiastic about the position you’re seeking? All the above should be obvious because you should be communicating it verbally and through your body language. Are you too long-winded and missing the point of the question? Or, to the contrary, are you lacking detail in your responses? How you communicate should display anticipation and excitement to complete the job duties.

Never overlook the importance of your body language. This is how we send messages without saying a word. Your job interview is not the time to send mixed signals. Sit up with good posture, use positive facial expressions, make eye contact and gesture appropriately to make your points. In short, act like you like your interviewer. Being that there’s truth to the mirror effect, they likely will reciprocate.

The essentials of being a professional are crucial. You must know the craft. But as we evolve into the fourth industrial revolution, technical skills are no longer enough. Those will get you in the room, but your leadership, critical thinking skills, emotional intelligence and clear communication will close the door behind you and make sure you get invited to stay.

Learn more about the skills you’ll need to thrive in the future with our Human Intelligence Series.